In February of 2015, UFC announced an exclusive partnership with DraftKings to become its official daily fantasy sports partner. That deal expired at the end of 2015.
As with many sponsorship and partnership deals that expire in the sports world, it is possible that a new deal — or an extension of the previous deal — could be announced soon or is in the works.
A DraftKings representative offered this statement to Legal Sports Report:
“We value our continued relationship with UFC and are very happy with what we were able to accomplish through our partnership — we have great enthusiasm for their offering and are committed to this sport.”
DraftKings and UFC deal
The initial length of a deal signed between the daily fantasy sports operator and the premier mixed martial arts organization in the world was never initially disclosed last February, so it appears that the deal was for one year only.
Just a week ago, DraftKings announced it had acquired a mixed martial arts and combat sports DFS site, Kountermove.
The end of the DraftKings-UFC deal, at least for the time being, confirms what could be seen anecdotally, as promotion of DraftKings by the UFC had all but disappeared. The last mention of DraftKings on the UFC’s website came in December.
The background of DraftKings and UFC, MMA
The deal between the UFC and DraftKings was inked just about a year ago. As part of the relationship between the companies, DraftKings had received “prominent stadium and PPV brand placement for all major events, as well as joint promotion across all UFC web properties and social channels.”
The deal also allowed DraftKings to offer UFC-themed experiences, including the ability to win a trip to a UFC event as the guest of president Dana White.
DraftKings helped grow the MMA DFS vertical from an extremely niche product to one with hundreds of thousands of dollars in guaranteed prize pools up for grabs for most fight cards. The guaranteed contests for this Sunday’s UFC Fight Night headlined by Donald Cerrone and Alex Oliveria eclipse $200,000 in prizes, for example.
However, DFS for MMA still remains a relatively secondary offering for DraftKings, behind the major team sports and even other verticals such as golf.
Some other DFS operators offer daily fantasy MMA, but DraftKings’ major competitor, FanDuel, has stayed out of the market.
Still plenty of other DraftKings partners
Even with the end of the UFC deal — at least for now — DraftKings has relationships with teams and leagues across a variety of sports. At the top level, DK has deals with:
- Major League Baseball
- Major League Soccer
Those partnerships are in addition to deals with dozens of teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the English Premier League in soccer. Just last week, DraftKings announced partnerships with several EPL teams.